Will you fall in love with ‘Paris is Really for Lovers’ by Scarlet Cassadine? I’ll outline what it was like to read it for me and you can decide for yourself if your money would be well-spent on this piece of fiction labeled as contemporary romance.
I had about as hard of a time reading this book as I had reading 50 Shades of Grey. Yet, I do it for a few reasons. First, because it does help me feel better about my own writing (and we all know my self-esteem is not the highest). Second, it concretely helps me see what doesn’t work in a piece so that I can avoid those types of pitfalls in my own. Third, if I’ve already paid for it and it’s written by an indie author, I’m going to finish it in support of someone who is doing what they love, regardless of what my opinion about it may be.
Why It Was So Difficult To Finish
Imagine you have a close friend who is still learning English, has never been the most coherent storyteller, and is completely shit-faced. If you can visualize that person trying to tell you the story of how she met and married her second husband, you get a feel for what it’s like to try to read and comprehend what goes on in this book.
And, as I request of my own beta readers in their reviews, I won’t just toss that opinion out there and let it sit. I’ll back up what I noticed. Just so that you’ve been warned, “a knock appeared at the door” 🤔 and the use of ‘then’ in place of ‘than’ are rampant throughout this piece.
Here are just a few more examples of sections that shocked me–especially since, in the opening, someone was credited with having edited the book! 😱
The first few lines of the story:
It was all planned.
Planned on how Tia Ambers was going to be able to have a full mental break from her home-bound duties.
Sadly, it was at this point that I realized reading this book was going to be grueling. And I was not proven wrong. I put ‘full mental break’ in orange because I believe I understand what she meant, but I have most often heard ‘mental break’ being used to describe acute psychosis due to my professional background.
A few paragraphs later:
He popped the trunk and unloaded her suitcase and carry-on tote brief case bag.
That’s a lot of different types of bags in a single product. Is it really all of those at the same time, was this a typo, or is this really what that author meant to say?
And a few paragraphs after that:
She was 14 when her parents took her [to Paris for the first time]. She remembered how huge the Eiffel Tower was and also the food was different. It was richer in spice and flavor and very decorative. Nothing plan or bland about it. And all the buildings and outskirt drives.
‘And’ would suffice, as would a simple comma before ‘also.’ ‘The food was richer in spice…’ would flow just fine instead of breaking the idea up into two different sentences. The last part is just dangling out there on its own. There are a lot of lines like that in this book.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of clarity issues in the book. What I’ve shown you so far happens in just the front 4% of the book. You’ve got 96% more of this to deal with.
There didn’t seem to be any character development here. The people listed were more like pawns that did whatever Cassadine wanted them to if it seemed convenient for her at the time.
Tia overwhelmingly allows herself to be moved around by the people surrounding her. She’s a constant damsel-in-distress. She does nothing about the fact that her husband is cheating on her, for example. Another guy, Paul, actually sets up a meeting with a divorce lawyer FOR HER in order to get it done–he even takes her to the meeting himself.
Paul does a lot of work for on Tia’s behalf–even buys the house the Ambers have been living in from Tia’s parents so she can continue living in it without issue–yet he never gets angry or resentful, he never seems exhausted or questioning of the relationship or Tia. He just takes everything in stride and is the perfect gentleman everywhere but in the bedroom.
These issues with character realism were most noticeable after Tia got raped. Once they did have sex again for the first time in a while, Tia had no hesitancy about the act. Then, even when Paul (for who knows what reason) physically restrains her with his hands during sex (as was done to her during the rape), she’s perfectly fine with it, even says she “loved it.”
The vast majority of people I’ve worked with who have experienced rape have trouble having any intimate contact for months, often years. And intimate contact can be something as simple as a touch, holding hands, or kissing. But it seemed to me that, because Cassadine was ready to write the rest of the book, she just pretended that the rape didn’t affect Tia very strongly and kept on with the story.
In a nutshell:
Tia goes on a trip to Paris and meets a man, Paul, who works at a competing company and sweeps her off her feet. She decides she wants to leave her cheating husband and be with Paul. She’s raped by a guest staying in the same hotel as her one night and Paul gets her treated for her wounds. Paul lets her heal at his nearby estate and they return to the United States together after Paul offers her a job and her own company when she’s ready. After Tia accepts the job offer, Paul initiates and facilitates Tia’s divorce from her husband. Paul buys Tia’s house from Tia’s parents. Tia finds out she’s pregnant with Paul’s child. Paul proposes. Tia accepts. Tia decides to go on a trip to Mississippi to see an aunt she hasn’t met with in over 10 years. The end.
That’s the ‘plot,’ but I don’t recognize a story arc. Tia didn’t change as a person, only her circumstances were manipulated by Paul. There was no real tension or mountain to climb. There were little mole hills that Paul launched her over or that magically went away, but nothing that she had to work through on her own.
Another oddity was that Paul’s ex-wife came to a business event Tia had organized for the company. Paul disappears with his ex somewhere, but Tia loses track of them. She goes to the bathroom and hears them having sex in one of the stalls. She sees Paul step out of the stall after his ex, wash his lips, and leave the bathroom. AFTER THAT is when Tia decides to tell Paul that she’s pregnant, then Paul proposes, then she accepts. Again, it’s like the bathroom incident didn’t take place. Or, maybe Tia doesn’t care, but that would seem odd because she just divorced somebody who cheated on her.
Overall Rating: 1 / 5 stars
⭐ __ __ __ __
I can’t in good conscience recommend spending money to read this book. There are so many issues that need to be addressed before I would even deem it a complete work of fiction. But, that’s just my opinion.
If you still want to read it, click the cover image below.
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This is a kick-ass tool for your traditional publishing arsenal. This is “query letter how-to” meets “plug-and-play”. In Query Letter Swipe File, Christopher Kokoski once again delivers clear, no-nonsense guidance on an integral part of traditional publishing: the query letter.
What Will You Learn?
Query Letter Swipe File breaks down the components of a solid query letter and then compartmentalizes them so that you can fill in the blanks based on your particular story. By presenting the information in a way that is flexible and easy to customize, Kokoski shows his deep understanding of how varied the literary world can be. Many authors still attempt to teach people with a one-size-fits-all approach.
How Is Information Presented?
The format is easy and quick to read / swipe through (hence the title). This is a fantastic book to have in your physical and digital library as a go-to reference for every query letter you’ll ever write. The paragraphs are short and casual. The language is easy to understand and doesn’t get bogged down in a bunch of technical jargon that slows down or confuses readers of some non-fiction. I truly believe that just about anyone could pick up this book and write a decent query letter–even if they’ve never done it before (like me!).
What Should You Look Out For?
It looks like there were a few typos present that may catch you off guard upon first reading, but it’s easy to get past them because of how the templates are set up. For example, in template #4 (the one I used for the query letter I’ve included), the copy read:
“In [BESTSELLING AUTHOR IN YOUR GENRE] meets
[BESTSELLING BOOK OR MOVIE IN YOUR GENRE], this
story blends [GENRE COMPONENT], [GENRE
COMPONENT] and [GENRE COMPONENT] with [GENRE
So, as written, if completed, this section of my query letter might read:
“In Stephen King meets IT, this story blends childhood trauma, horror, and mystery with fantasy.”
which doesn’t make a lot of sense. But I believe he meant that you might say something like:
“In Stephen King’s novel IT, childhood trauma, horror, and mystery are blended with fantasy.”
What Will You LOVE About This Book?
The standout feature of Query Letter Swipe File is definitely the list of words and phrases that you can insert into the templates as you please. This means that Kokoski has done all the heavy lifting for you concerning how to word the openings, endings, and transitions that you’ll need to strengthen your query letter. I love it when instructions and tasks are made as simple as possible, and Kokoski has definitely done that in this book!
Final Verdict: 5 / 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐⭐
Query Letter Swipe File by Christopher Kokoski is fully loaded with everything you need to quickly and easily get a query letter constructed that will help you present your work in the best way possible.
I am a self-published author ONLY! I have never had to write a query letter and don’t know that I will ever have the desire or need to. However, in order to review this book, I did actually write a short query letter for Show Her using a template that was included in the book. You can read it at the end of the review.
About the Author
Learn more about Christopher Kokoski on his website: www.ChristopherKokoski.com.
Sample Query Letter for Show Her
Dear Supre Agente,
Based on your interest in dystopian and romantic literature, Show Her would be a perfect piece for you to represent.
Erika Wogo knows how to live a life that is the envy of everyone around her. She meticulously maintains her outward appearance, adheres to her husband’s every demand without question, and even passes her knowledge of being a proper wife on to others who are willing and eager to learn how to become (and stay) married.
But when a co-worker confesses to having an affair with Erika’s husband, Erika’s world view is shaken and the countdown to Erika’s divorce–and permanent social ruin–begins. Erika knows that it is only a matter of time before her husband will formally end their “purchase agreement” and leave her divorced and tainted for the rest of her life.
With a mix of cunning, determination, and sophisticated bio-weaponry, Erika does all she can to defend her marriage and her reputation against her husband’s infidelity. But, as adept as she is at managing her rivals in love, her loyal followers, her public persona, and the ex-boyfriend who still loves her without question, she will inevitably have to face the consequences of her nefarious actions.
Show Her is a dystopian psychological thriller blended with science fiction and romance. Show Her is a complete novella at 23,320 words. Please note that this is a simultaneous submission.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
T. L. Curtis
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“I found this novella to be an interesting tale. The author creates a very unique way for the main character to tell us the history of her culture, that worked out very well. It is a strange world that she imagines, and you begin wondering how bad can it be, while marveling at the twists it takes in the telling. The future imagined by T.L. Curtis seems outrageous, yet it brings to mind the world of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaids Tale”, and we know it can become all too real.
It is a world that you can easily get lost in!
I found this book to be well written, and the perfect length! I enjoyed it very much!”